No-knock warrants have gotten a lot of attention – most notably in the death of Breonna Taylor, who was killed in March during a shootout between her boyfriend and police in Louisville, Kentucky. Ohio’s Republican attorney general says he doesn’t want to ban those warrants, as some communities do, but he and the prosecutors in Ohio’s biggest counties have drafted some reforms.
In a virtual press conference with prosecutors in Cuyahoga, Franklin and Hamilton Counties, Attorney General Dave Yost unveiled stricter standards for no-knock warrants.
Yost and prosecutors Michael O'Malley, Ron O'Brien and Joe Deters are suggesting requiring officers to announce themselves as soon as possible and to wear clearly-identifiable clothing and body cameras, and to turn them on. And Yost said misdemeanor drug possession and paraphernalia charges would be insufficient for a no-knock warrant.
Yost noted some cities are considering eliminating these warrants, which are rare, but Yost said law enforcement needs the option.
“I don’t favor a ban because you cannot adequately foresee every possible instance where a waiver to the knock-and-announce requirement might be necessary to preserve life," Yost said.
Breonna Taylor's death looms large in this discussion, as communities have moved to restrict or eliminate these warrants. And all three prosecutors are on the ballot this fall - Deters and O'Brien are Republicans, like Yost, and have opponents in their races. O'Malley, a Democrat, is running unopposed.
“There’s a group of circumstances causing us to take a look at a statute that’s been on the books for a long time and that we can strengthen the controls, make everybody safer without taking away an essential tool for the law enforcement toolbox.”
Yost also noted Ohio has been a castle doctrine state since 2008, meaning people can use deadly force to defend themselves in their homes.